Strategic Workforce Development: Preparing Justice-Impacted Individuals for Transportation, Engineering and Construction Careers

Strategic Workforce Development, an innovative initiative of the Every Day Counts Program, suggests the importance of fostering an environment and partnerships favorable to training programs, pre-apprenticeship programs, and support for women and minorities in the construction workforce, among other strategies. The Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP), housed in Rutgers’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), has provided several strategic workforce development programming to vulnerable populations in and around Camden, NJ. While the program supports a variety of individuals, a majority of those served are justice-impacted and from historically underserved or vulnerable populations. With the continued success of these services, RYSP has grown and developed, most recently starting a new program focused on enhancing employment access in the transportation, infrastructure, and construction fields, called PACE (Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education), sponsored by the Apprenticeship Office of NJDOL. The program has also taken a new name to reflect its expansion into serving adults and focusing more closely on employment: Rutgers Employment Success Program (RESP).

We interviewed Todd Pisani, the Training Director of Rutgers Employment Success Programs. Todd has been working for the past ten years on strategic workforce development programs for justice-impacted individuals in Camden, NJ. His work started with the creation of the Rutgers Youth Success Program and has developed into several Camden, New Brunswick, and South Jersey based programs focused on bridging employment gaps for justice-challenged individuals.

Q. Can you tell us about the Rutgers Employment Success Program?

A. The Rutgers Employment Success Program (previously the Rutgers Youth Success Program) supports up to 120 justice-impacted youth in and around Camden, NJ, with job readiness, career exposure, work experience, education, and legal services. The program addresses some of the challenges many young people face following involvement in the juvenile justice system, especially with employment and accessing education. The program is funded by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (NJDOL) and is a collaboration between Rutgers University and the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT).

Participants of the Rutgers Youth Success Program learn from field professionals about automotive repairs

By the end of 2024, we will be serving 400 individuals and hope to increase this number going forward. While the program began with serving young individuals, we have found that expanding into an older age cohort, 18+ years, has been successful. We work directly with vulnerable populations — for example, black and brown people, individuals from historically underserved communities, returning citizens, or otherwise justice impacted people — to address employment barriers. Our approach includes consideration and support for people with mental, behavioral, or psychiatric health challenges. In addition to our on-the-ground work, we advocate for the change of harmful systems that pose barriers to employment by initiating a change in language and policy that have historically slowed progress and support for the populations we serve.

Q. How did you get involved in the Rutgers Youth Success Program and what has kept you involved for the past 10 years? 

A. After several years as an employee affiliated with the Cooperative Extension program at Rutgers, Camden, we were successful in putting together a team that included Dr. Clifton Lacy, former Commissioner of Health and head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that attracted federal funding. That 1.2 million dollar longitudinal research project studied recidivism and violence among justice impacted youth over 3 years, and led me to collaborate with Rutgers CAIT. When a staffing change presented an opportunity, we were able to move the continuation of funding from Cooperative Extension to CAIT. The program remained consistent with its goals and mission and our support for individuals remains the same, but we have been able to expand the program and strengthen our ties to the engineering, transportation, and infrastructure realm.

Q. One of the goals of the Rutgers Employment Success Program is to address some of the barriers under-represented, or justice-challenged individuals face when pursuing a career. What do some of these barriers look like and how is this program targeting these? 

A. The barriers are baked into the system as a whole — and there are many organizations and even political movements that are working to change that trajectory. The most prevalent barriers include:

  • The outrageous and arbitrary time individuals must wait after incarceration to even be considered for some positions. We combat that by pushing for improved hiring policies, advocacy efforts in a variety of environments including discussions with trade unions, partnerships with community colleges and their affiliates, and developing relationships with specific employers and helping them see the value in hiring returning citizens.
  • Trauma and PTSD are common effects of incarceration and experience in the justice system. These conditions may make finding or receiving employment challenging and advocating for oneself even more so. We lead our program from a strengths-based trauma-informed approach, ensuring that everyone is treated with respect, honor, and dignity.
  • Justice-impacted individuals are often restricted from decision-making rooms. We utilize our privilege by inviting in justice-impacted leaders to rooms they often are kept from. We have several justice-impacted individuals on our team, so we lead by example. The resulting interactions with Judges, attorneys and law enforcement encourage human to human interactions and help those in power rethink their language and approaches.
  • Low exposure to higher education. We encourage individuals to dream and follow their professional interests. Our program also provides individuals with tours of colleges and supportive conversations, proving that it is a viable option for them.

Q. How has the Rutgers Employment Success Program been received by justice-challenged individuals? 

A. There are hits and misses, like any group of individuals. We hire people who are reflective culturally of the communities we serve — most of the team are black or brown people, including the team leads. We have several Spanish speakers on the team. And 2 have been justice impacted themselves, one a well-known community leader who spent over 30 years in prison for a crime committed as a teenager. He earned  his degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers while incarcerated as part of the NJ STEP (Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons) program, and has emerged as an amazing advocate for returning citizens, and has helped us link to the returning citizens  community in an authentic, immersive, and heartfelt way.

Our past participants have been extremely helpful with refining our practices by voicing their own experience and suggestions for improvements. Most recently we changed some of our intake paperwork to make it easier to access and friendlier, as requested. Participants have also identified system challenges, like the selective service status letter requirement which automatically creates a barrier for some. We really appreciate this feedback, and we also look to our sponsors for advice and suggestions.

Q. Are there any populations you are having difficulty reaching?

A. The population we serve is mostly minorities and men. We have promoted and recruited our programs across gender identities and have had female program coordinators. However, our most recent research project was a 90/10 split male to female. This is most likely a result of the gender disparity of justice-impacted youth; there are far less women and girls entangled by the justice-impacted world. We have engaged young women in our apprenticeship projects and have a black female instructor who teaches occupational safety and heavy equipment—she is very active and vocal about bringing women into the trades. Our hope is to encourage more women into the field; however, we don’t necessarily want more females to be impacted by justice. Since the NJDOL has infused the importance of targeting other populations into their grant opportunities by listing the variety of individuals traditionally harder to reach or less likely to consider the trades, we expect that employers and trade unions will follow suit and make diversity and inclusion a priority, if they haven’t already.

Q. Why are transportation and infrastructure important fields for the population you serve to connect to?

A. Many of our individuals we serve or have served identify hands-on work as appealing to them. They tend toward less office-based employment and more toward the trade industries, including transportation. Other fields of interest include construction, heavy equipment, offshore wind and other green energy solutions.

Q. Speaking of participant interest in construction and transportation careers, tell us about the new RYSP program, PACE.

A. The Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education program, or PACE, is an exciting new apprenticeship program that has recently been added to the suite of Rutgers Youth Success Program services. The program is modeled after past NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development models and will prepare participants with the necessary experience to apply for apprenticeships. Our program began in July 2023 and currently has funding for 30 participants from around the North Brunswick area. PACE goes beyond the foundational support that RYSP provides to disconnected or justice impacted youth, by increasing direct services to emerging adults 17-24 years old who are not immediately interested in or applying to college but would like to explore immediate career options.

Flyer for PACE Program Targeted to Heavy Equipment Operations

This program follows several successful programs through RESP, and in many cases incorporates the lessons learned from previous participants. Individuals not pursuing a degree following high school are often encouraged into service industry fields and healthcare, as preparation programs are more readily available. However, past participants have really expressed interest in hands-on skill training and work. Therefore, PACE is aiming to address this gap by establishing pathways for underserved populations to work in the transportation, infrastructure, or construction fields. In this case, participants will move through the Operating Engineers introductory curriculum, which includes:

  • 10 hours of on-the-job shadowing, with placement support through Hudson County Community College;
  • 30 hours of training to receive OSHA construction industry certification that will be provided by our long-standing partnership with Myers Crossing LLC.
  • Taking the Operating Engineers introductory course at Hudson County community College
  • Exposure and connections to Local 825, the International Union of Operating Engineers, which has a hands-on training facility and a training initiative with Hudson County Community College, its Earn and Learn Program.  

The goal is to expand the possible futures of each participant, allowing them to:

  • Begin an entry-level job in the transportation, infrastructure, or construction field.
  • Participate in a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Enroll in an educational program, like the Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies at Hudson County Community College

We anticipate making employment, apprenticeship, or full-time training or education quality placements   for at least 20 of our pre-apprentices in operating engineering by December 2024.

Debbie Myers of Myers Crossing, LLC instructing a PACE participant during an OSHA training session

We also have built a relationship with NJ Transit, NJDOT, and other large infrastructure related employers and are hopeful this will assist with job placements for younger people (18-19 years), which can be more challenging.

Q. In addition to the new PACE program, you are listed as the part of the lead research team for the EDC-7 Pilot Evaluation of Strategic Workforce Development for Justice-Challenged Youth research project. Could you tell us more about this work?

A. This is a very new research project, so I don’t have a lot to share yet. Our team will develop a set of best practices for strategic workforce development in the transportation and infrastructure fields using a nationwide survey of current workforce development programs that assist justice-impacted youth. The research is managed by the National Center for Infrastructure Transformation, led by Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and performed by Rutgers University and the Prairie View A&M. My hope is to strengthen our current efforts and support multiple projects through this project.

Q. What types of agencies will benefit from these best practices for Strategic workforce development? 

A. We are voting members of the Camden Youth Services Commission; each county has a version of this. The biggest benefactor for this research project will be the local youth justice system folks who are always seeking alternative methods for creating positive preventive and diversionary pathways as well as providing alternatives to detention or other punitive responses especially for young, justice-impacted individuals. Partner organizations that include the community colleges, Pathstone, Volunteer’s of America, and others will benefit from having access to a database of models for moving impacted young people into the workforce or training sectors. The transportation employer sectors, and other employers can benefit when presented with supportive data from other areas where these projects have found success. For example, if they are doing something amazing and successful in California that we can replicate and demonstrate its efficacy using data, it can potentially erode resistance and allow for larger organizations to overcome the risk factor and partner with organizations like Rutgers providing the support services to lean toward success for all. 

Q.  Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share?

Todd Pisani takes group selfie with participants and colleagues from the Youth Success Program.

A. We had an 82 percent benchmark attainment rate at the conclusion of the pilot Bridges program, which we are now in the first year of a 3-year continuation cycle. That project grew from serving 40 during the beginning of the pandemic when no in-person contact was allowed, to 100 served in the Camden area alone in 2022, and we are now on track to serving 120 in Camden and New Brunswick.

We have sought to successfully intertwine research and community-serving initiatives through multiple projects – our four NJDOL projects have been specifically project-based with no research specifically attached to them.  The EDC-7 Pilot Evaluation Study of Strategic Workforce Development for Justice-Challenged Youth, as well as others, can help to attract attention, provide reinforcement for our effort, and place the work itself into a scholarly context. We believe we can use the research to refine our projects, but also improve the design of research about the populations we serve.

Language is an important component of our work; for instance, we started using the term “justice impacted” instead of justice involved, primarily to demonstrate that nobody really wants to be “involved’ in justice world, and to plant the seed that there is an impact here that can shift the whole picture for many folks, especially black and brown individuals who have been disproportionately targeted and treated differently at all levels of the justice system, including in policing, sentencing structure and disciplinary policies in schools. Research helps solidify philosophical or observational notions, and provides an undergirding for the work itself, which for our implementation teams is the most important factor—helping to shift the trajectory for a young person, or an older individual for that matter. 


Rutgers Youth Success Program

Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 7, Strategic Workforce Development

Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825

NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development

Camden Youth Services Commission
Youth Services Commission | Camden County, NJ

National Center for Infrastructure Transformation Prairie View
National Center for Infrastructure Transformation (NCIT) – Led by Prairie View A&M University (

Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies at Hudson County Community College
Technical Studies AAS (

Operating Engineers Local 825 Earn and Learn Program
825 Earn and Learn

For information on current workforce development programs see:

NJ Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships

NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities

For information on re-entry support programs in New Jersey visit: Governor’s Reentry Training & Employment Center NJRC (

For information on re-entry support for women, visit: The_Womens_Project_2023.pdf (

NJ STIC 3rd Quarter 2023 Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened its 3rd Quarter Meeting on September 27, 2023 at the NJDOT Bordentown Training Center for Excellence. This in-person event provided an opportunity for attendees to tour the newly opened state-of-the-art training center. An agenda for the meeting was distributed in advance of the event.

Welcome Remarks and Tour of Training Facility. Brandee Sullivan, NJDOT Innovation Coordinator, greeted those in attendance and opened the meeting. Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo gave welcoming remarks, noting that the STIC meeting was the first held “in-person” since the outset of the pandemic. He gave an overview of the day’s agenda and its featured speaker. He noted that Sudhir Joshi, from the Bureau of Statewide Strategies, would assume CIA Team Lead for the Planning and Environment Team.

Ms. Melissa Boyer from the Bordentown Training Center for Excellence spoke briefly about NJDOT’s acquisition of the former property of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in 2016 and the substantial rehabilitation investments made to convert three buildings and the surrounding land into the transportation-focused training complex. Those in attendance were then divided into separate teams for guided tours that were provided by Ms. Boyer and Eric Walters that included an opportunity for a “hands-on” sampling of the facility’s truck driving simulators.

After touring the Bordentown Training Center, NJ STIC participants came together for group photo before returning to the afternoon meeting session inside the facility.

FHWA Updates. After the tour, Christopher Paige, Innovation and Community Planner in the FHWA NJ Division Office, gave a brief update. He noted that the FHWA had issued its EDC-7 Baseline Report in July 2023 which conveys the innovations and goals for deployment being set by the various states. He highlighted that several FHWA Innovation Exchange Webinars have been delivered since the EDC-7 launch to introduce select topics such as Nighttime Safety and Strategic Workforce Development and available resources. As with prior rounds, EDC-7 will have a two-year cycle, but the period of performance was adjusted to run through May 2025. The first progress report cycle will be due in April 2024. He provided an overview of several resources available through the FHWA’s Center for Accelerating Innovation (CAI) website which leads the national STIC program.

Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with short presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates on the status of the various innovative initiative topics being advanced during EDC-7. Update reports were given by the various CIA Teams on Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, Mobility and Operations, Organizational Improvement and Support, and Planning and Environment.

Featured Presentation – SJTPO Innovative Approaches to Traffic Safety Education. The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) has developed a series of traffic safety education programs to teach the public about traffic safety. The programs are designed to bring awareness to the many traffic safety risks presented to drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on area roadways and teach simple ways to improve safety. Robert Clarke, SJTPO Traffic Safety Specialist, described the various traffic safety education programs, highlighting the length of each program and typical audience. In describing the several trainings, he explained how they were designed to appeal to unique needs, interests and specific age groups such as high school, elementary, and middle school students, adults, and vulnerable older drivers. For example, a driving simulator program was targeted to teens in a probationary period, or the basic physics of driving were emphasized in a training targeted to high school math and physics students. During his talk, Mr. Clark also touched upon the various federal and state funding sources and resource commitments made to sustain SJTPO’s Safety Education and Outreach Program.

Announcements and Reminders

NJDOT Safety Resource Center. Jeevanjot Singh, Section Chief, gave an overview of the NJDOT Safety Resource Center (SRC) and its activities. Ms. Singh explained that NJDOT’s most important mission is ensuring safety – the safety of our customers and the assets that the agency builds. Ms. Singh noted that the SRC is envisioned as a one-stop destination for roadway safety-related information, noting that the SRC seeks to connect safety stakeholders with information about safety projects and programs, funding and grant opportunities, trainings from industry experts, safety campaign materials, technical assistance and other resources.

The SRC has launched a training program and, to-date, nine “Lunch & Learn” sessions have been held with more planned for the future. The SRC is also looking to develop longer in-depth trainings on select topics such as the “safe systems” approach. The SRC is expected to launch a website and a SRC LinkedIn page shortly and develop public campaigns to promote a positive safety culture for all road users.

Ms. Singh spoke about the role that the SRC plays in the implementation of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, among other topics. She encouraged those in attendance to register for the NJDOT Safety Summit event planned for October 24th at the College of New Jersey.

2023 National Build a Better Mousetrap Award “Bold Steps” Winner: NJ’s Route 71 Over Shark River Road Diet Project. This NJDOT bridge rehabilitation and road project was recognized as the year’s “Bold Steps” Award winner in the 2023 National Build a Better Mousetrap Award Competition. Each year, the FHWA honors state, local, and Tribal agencies for devising innovative solutions to improve transportation programs. Mrs. Sullivan congratulated Gerald Oliveto, P.E. and his team for receiving the national award which developed a breakthrough solution to preserve an old bridge while improving safety and saving taxpayer dollars.

In announcing this year’s award winners, FHWA produced a video explaining the Bold Steps Award and offering a description of the Route 71 Over Shark River Road Diet project which can be accessed here. The FHWA noted that the innovation not only improves transportation performance, but offers a model and transferable solution for other agencies.

Presentation: Route 71 Over Shark River: Road Diet & Safety Improvements Project. Gerald Oliveto, P.E. then gave an in-depth presentation about the award-winning project, explaining the history and location of the bridge and the challenges that NJDOT had to quickly confront after a span-lock failure in September 2021 disrupted the drawbridge’s operation, affecting roadway usage and maritime traffic patterns. Mr. Oliveto explained how the Route 71 drawbridge safety features – opening and closing sequences – were designed to operate to further help set the stage for understanding the challenges and urgency of the project.

He described several interim repair options that were examined for their cost and benefits before the preferred road diet option was selected as a near-term solution. He emphasized that design and implementation of the preferred solution was the product of effective teamwork and extensive internal coordination (e.g., regional operations, structural engineering, traffic engineering, signage, office of government and community relations, etc.).

Mr. Oliveto described how NJDOT implemented a road diet across the bridge, which allowed the Department to address safety issues. Traffic over the bridge was reduced from one northbound lane and two southbound lanes to one lane in each direction. With the lane configuration reduced to one lane in each direction, NJDOT was able to extend bicycle lanes that previously terminated in Avon-By-The-Sea across the drawbridge into Belmar.

His presentation highlighted a key design feature that was used to extend the bike lanes over the bridge. The extended bicycle lanes were accomplished using an innovative fiber-reinforced-polymer mat on the bascule span. The mat is the first of its kind in New Jersey and provided a safe crossing of a steel-grid deck for bicycles. Previously, bicyclists had needed to dismount and walk their bicycle across the bridge. The extended bicycle lanes provided connectivity between both downtown areas and an area heavily utilized by bicycle traffic year-round.

Mr. Oliveto’s talk described several design and community coordination features that were integrated into the project to build needed municipal and community support. His talk made clear the importance of communications, early and often, and working with the affected communities throughout the process to explain the logic behind the selection of the road diet option and identifying other design features (e.g., painted crosswalks, signage) that would be welcomed by the local communities. His talk touched upon various communications and coordination activities that were put into place, including the NJDOT’s Office of Communications use of social media and videos to keep the public informed about the road diet project, and the NJDOT’s Office of Mobility working with GPS companies about routing changes to avoid adverse routing of vehicles onto residential streets, among others.

Assistant Commissioner Russo presented Shivani Patel with the NJ STIC Exemplary Council Member Award, its first-ever recipient, in recognition of her valued contributions.

NJ STIC Exemplary Council Member Award. Assistant Commissioner Russo presented Shivani Patel, CIA Team Lead for Infrastructure Preservation, with the NJ STIC Exemplary Council Member Award as its first-ever recipient. The award recognizes her strong leadership as CIA Team Lead since assuming responsibility and her instrumental role in championing the Environmental Products Declaration initiative by developing an SME team and hosting coordination meetings

Reminders and Updates. Mrs. Sullivan closed the meeting with several reminders and updates.

NJ STIC Online. She reminded attendees of the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

NJ Transportation Ideas Portal. Mrs. Sullivan noted that the NJDOT Bureau of Research has combined the innovative ideas portal with the research portal to gather high quality ideas from the transportation community. She pointed to the business cards and a poster with a QR code that were available in the front of the room as a handy means to access the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal. She encouraged attendees to take a few business cards to share with colleagues. For more information and to how register for an account and submit ideas on the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal, go to:

Local Technical Assistance and STIC. Mrs. Sullivan added that there are free trainings on EDC-7 topics delivered through the Local Technical Assistance Program at Rutgers-CAIT. She shared links to an upcoming schedule of trainings. She also noted that new opportunities are added frequently at the website:

Upcoming Events. Mrs. Sullivan noted in brief some important upcoming events on research and innovation:

  • Safety Summit – October 24th
  • 25th Anniversary of the Research Showcase – Oct 25th
  • Complete Streets Summit – Nov 1st

STIC Incentive Program Funding. Mrs. Sullivan noted that STIC Incentive Program funds are available. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year. Mrs. Sullivan asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. She noted that local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.

Closing the Business Portion and Final Remarks. Ms. Sullivan concluded the business portion of the STIC meeting, noting that this would be the final STIC Meeting for Assistant Commissioner Russo with his imminent retirement. In recognition of this milestone and his long-standing leadership role with the NJ STIC, Mrs. Sullivan invited Vanessa Holman, Deputy Chief of Staff in the NJDOT Commissioner’s Office, to say a few words about Assistant Commissioner’s instrumental role in advancing the NJ STIC’s mission over the years and strengthening the team going forward.

About the Bordentown Training Facility. The training facility includes specialized classrooms and adjoining labs outfitted with real roadway structures, traffic control components, and vehicle maintenance equipment, including:

  • Lecture hall, multi-use classrooms, computer training labs, offices, conference and breakout rooms, and locker room facilities.
  • Two full-motion Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) Truck Simulators.
  • Construction, Landscape and Roadway Training Lab with in-ground model of drainage inlets connected by a culvert.
  • Electrical and Sign Training Lab with real traffic signal control cabinets and in-ground pull boxes.
  • Automotive Training Lab with working model of truck brake system.
  • Equipment Training Bay with welding area and space to work on large vehicles Radio Shop.
  • A mock roadway features a signalized intersection, crosswalks, overhead signs, and a railroad grade crossing that presents trainees with the traffic infrastructure and conditions encountered on the job.

A recording of the NJ STIC September 2023 meeting is under production and will be shared when it is available. The day’s presentations can be found here and in the sections below.

Photos from the Bordentown Training Facility tour are presented at the bottom.

NJ STIC Meeting – 3rd Quarter 2023, Recording
Welcome Remarks & FHWA Updates
CIA Team Update: Safety
CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation
CIA Team Update: Organizational Support & Improvement
CIA Team Update: Mobility & Safety
CIA Team Update: Planning & Environment
Feature Presentation: SJTPO Innovative Approaches to Traffic Safety Education
Announcement: Safety Resource Center
Announcement: Build a Better Mousetrap Award 2023 Bold Steps Award
Presentation: Route 71 over Shark River – Road Diet & Safety Improvements
NJ STIC – 10+Years of Innovating and 2023 Exemplary NJSTIC Member
Reminders and Announcements
      • Bordentown Training Facility Tour Photos
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      NJDOT Traffic Incident Management Training Course – Now Available Online as Self-Guided Course

      The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Traffic Incident Management (NJTIM) training is now available as an online, self-guided course. Bringing first responder training program to an online training platform should make it easier for even more emergency and incident response personnel to access a life-saving training. The new online course can be accessed through the NJTIM website.

      The TIM training program focuses on a response effort that protects motorists and first responders during a roadside emergency, while minimizing impact on traffic flow. Since its inception in 2009, NJDOT and its partner agencies have trained more than 24,000 emergency and incident response personnel, including police, firefighters, EMS personnel, DOT crews, towing/recovery companies and other responders.

      Training efforts, like these, are crucial in coordinating response efforts that keep all first responders and transportation professionals safe.

      The new online training course can be found at NJ TIM Website:

      Providing easier access to TIM training for busy first responders and transportation professionals should prove more cost effective than traditional, in-person meetings for organizations with limited budgets. The online training program is asynchronous, offering greater flexibility in taking the training for personnel whose work schedules may not align with in-person training dates.

      Online programs can also be easily updated and revised, ensuring that participants receive the most current and relevant information.

      The online training is designed to engage training participants with videos, simulations, knowledge checks, and interactive scenarios that mimic real-world situations. The online TIM training utilizes assessments and certifications to evaluate the trainees’ understanding of the material and practice decision-making in high-stress scenarios without real world consequences.

      The online TIM training program seeks to improve safely and coordination in responding to incidents on New Jersey’s roadways. The target audience for this training is county and municipal law enforcement and emergency personnel, including volunteer firefighters and EMTs.

      FHWA’s Every Day Counts Program has recognized the importance of TIM as model safety and mobility innovation. In Round 6, Next-Generation TIM: Integrating Technology, Data, and Training, the importance of training of local agencies was encouraged.

      The FHWA’s Talking TIM webinar series provides best practices, new technological innovations, and successful implementations. The webinar series provides a forum where TIM champions with any level of experience can exchange information about current practices, programs, and technologies.

      More information on the rationale and benefits of the new course can be found in the video and the NJDOT press release.

      Strategic Workforce Development: A Follow-Up Conversation with Hudson County Community College and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825

      The Earn & Learn program was funded by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant through the NJ Department of Labor.
      The IUOE has named the hybrid apprentice program “Earn and Learn.” The first student cohort began class in January 2022.

      Strategic Workforce Development, an FHWA Every Day Counts (EDC) Round 6 and 7 innovation, anticipates collaboration between government agencies, trade organizations, private agencies, and communities to prepare individuals for the construction workforce. The demand for workers in highway maintenance, construction, and operations is growing, as is the demand for new skill sets required for work with emerging technologies. The recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the construction sector is integral to the initiative. Through on-the-job training and supportive services program, NJDOT is exploring ways to work with contractors, contracting associations, and unions on shaping the future workforce, including programs aimed at increasing representation of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations in the construction and operations workforce.

      We spoke with Lori Margolin, the Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and Greg LaLevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 for an update on their apprenticeship program entitled Earn & Learn.

      Earn & Learn Program Background

      The IUOE Earn & Learn program is an advanced manufacturing initiative supported by a NJ PLACE 2.0 grant. HCCC and IUOE Local 825 established the program in November 2021 through an articulation agreement. The program gives students the opportunity to be dually enrolled in the union apprenticeship program and HCCC, where they will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits.

      During an 18-month period, participants earn 30 credits from on-the-job training and education provided by the union and are scheduled to earn the other 30 credits from HCCC over five semesters. They attend HCCC part-time, taking two classes per semester and earning six credits per semester on average.  All classes are offered in a virtual modality.

      Q. The Earn & Learn program has been operating for a little over one year. How is program implementation going so far?

      IUOE 825 will continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with HCCC and other higher education institutions.
      HCCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development works with employers to provide training to meet a diversity of needs.

      A. Implementing the program with this first cohort of students has been a learning experience for both the HCCC and IUOE Local 825, as this initiative is the first of its kind. Program implementation is going well overall, with challenges noted below. Twenty-four of the 30 students initially accepted into the program remain enrolled. Factors influencing departures included health issues and struggles for some with the academic or other program requirements. The program is on-track to initiate a second round of applications later this year for the spring 2024 semester.

      Q. Are you making modifications to either the academic component or the hands-on training based on your experience in the first year of implementation?

      A.  As initially planned, students would earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies degree after they complete 60 credits. However, we have reconfigured the degree to more closely align with the construction industry; students will earn a degree in Technical Studies with a construction concentration.

      The course work has been altered to be more directly relevant to the construction industry and to what students are learning at IUOE Local 825. For example, we have replaced some of the math and science courses more directly aligned with the HCCC construction management course work.

      While all participants take the same coursework, some modifications are available to accommodate students on different pathways. For example, a student seeking to continue their studies at a four-year university should likely take a Calculus course, whereas those not wishing to continue their education beyond an Associate Degree may opt for other available math courses.

      Q. What have been the key challenges you have encountered so far in the program implementation? How have you addressed those challenges?

      The IUOE Training Center offers simulations to prepare for operating in-field equipment.

      A. One of the main challenges can be scheduling as students must meet the demands of their on-the-job training, as well as their classroom instruction requirements. Construction jobs may be located far from one’s residence and/or require off-peak work hours, which compounds this scheduling challenge.

      Many of the participants have not had recent experience with balancing academic demands with on-the-job training. Many of the students are 25 years of age or older and have not been enrolled in school for several years. For such students, re-entering the classroom can be a “culture shock,” and requires them to learn how to prioritize academic studies.

      This is often an issue in adult learning so both a HCCC Student Success Coach and the IUOE Local 825 chief academic officer are vital partners in the program. Many HCCC initiatives include a Student Success Coach as a best practice to provide adult students with additional supports with navigating the college in terms of scheduling, instruction, and identifying resources to address other demands so they can attain success. The Student Success Coach often functions as a student advocate and navigator. The value of the Student Success Coach to the Earn & Learn program must be emphasized.

      Q. What have been some key takeaways and lessons learned so far with the program?

      HCCC and the IUOE are training workers for the construction industry, including highway construction.

      A. Creating connections among the student cohort has been an important and contributing factor to students’ ongoing success. Students have been able to develop relationships virtually through class, as well as through the Earn & Learn in-person orientation. We also convened an in-person meeting with students after the first semester to discuss issues and challenges with the Earn & Learn program. The students receive both academic and emotional support and camaraderie from one another and benefit from cohort learning.

      Also vital to identifying and addressing program challenges has been the open and clear communication channels established and nurtured between the HCCC Student Success Coach and the IUOE Local 825 chief academic officer.

      We have learned that overall program flexibility is key as well. For example, to give students the greatest scheduling flexibility and to accommodate diverse comfort levels, they are given some choice with how their HCCC academic instruction is delivered. Specifically, for some classes student can take asynchronous online classes, or opt for synchronous instruction with a live instructor.

      Q. What benefits have been achieved so far from the Earn & Learn program?

      A. Many students are surpassing their own expectations for their performance in the program, which is wonderful to experience. As one student shared, “I didn’t think I could do school again.” Most are maintaining high GPAs. I feel that the personal growth experienced by these students will also translate into them becoming better members in the IUOE union and better employees.

      Q. Are you aware of any other similar programs generating interest in the construction trade?

      Students get “hands-on” time for operating heavy equipment at the IUOE Training Facility.

      A. The Earn & Learn program is a bit unique. However, I believe the Carpenter’s Union is working on something with the state Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and they are referring to their training centers as technical colleges. Some of the other construction trades also have arrangements with higher education institutions, such as with Thomas Edison State University.

      Other Construction-Focused Career Initiatives

      Q. During our interview last year, the goal of bridging the gap between student age when graduating Vo-Tech (17 years) and entry into an apprenticeship (age 18 required) was discussed. You were trying to arrange for a direct entry from Middlesex County Vo-Tech to a union apprenticeship with IUOE Local 825. Have you gotten any traction on that effort? Are there other construction-focused career initiatives you want to bring to our attention?

      A. Opportunities are never lost! We continue to work on advancing this goal with Middlesex County Vo-Tech of bridging student age when graduating Vo-Tech and apprenticeship entry with us. The Vo-Tech’s East Brunswick campus is located 2.5 miles from the IUOE Local 825 training center, so there is a genuine opportunity here for those students.

      Ocean County has a heavy equipment program in their Vo-Tech and we [IUOE Local 825] had an initial meeting to learn more about that effort. We also had some of their students come to our training center for a site visit.

      There are other exciting education-focused initiatives happening as well. For example, Local 825’s sister organization located in the Midwest has developed a mathematics curriculum for high school students that local districts can use. The curriculum speaks to how the student would resolve math questions as an operating engineer. IUOE Local 825’s academic officer is working to bring that curriculum to New Jersey, perhaps in collaboration with the non-profit Junior Achievement organization, which is focused on developing youth skills to promote economic success.

      An innovative Rutgers initiative led by the Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP) in partnership with Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) recently received new funding through a PACE grant. The RYSP program will seek to place under-represented and justice-challenged young people in transportation and infrastructure careers. The grant will support development of a pre-apprenticeship program for Operating Engineers. HCCC will be the training partner for this 18-month program.

      Middlesex County is home not only to Rutgers and IUOE Local 825, but also to many of the construction equipment dealers such as John Deere, Caterpillar, and Komatsu. However, there remains limited interaction between all these potential partners to discuss opportunities to diversify and strengthen the construction workforce.

      Q. HCCC is a co-leader with Rowan College in the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation. Can you give us a brief update on that work? Do you collaborate directly with Rowan on these initiatives and, if yes, in what way?

      A. This Construction Center of Workforce is part of the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities (NJ Pathways), a collaborative program between the NJ Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. Year one work has been completed. There are ten centers for workforce innovation, including one focused on construction. HCCC is the administrative lead along with Rowan College of South Jersey for the construction innovation.

      The Construction Center of Workforce is one of ten workforce centers partnering with the state’s community colleges.

      HCCC’s efforts related to the Construction Center of Workforce Innovation, as well as through several other initiatives including the Earn & Learn Program, helped focus our successful work to expand the offerings in our construction management program. We have had an Associate Degree in construction management for a while, and now we also offer a one-year academic certificate requiring 34 credits and 2 proficiency certificates in either construction administration or construction technology requiring 13 or 14 credits. We also offer seven-to-nine individual courses that offer certification in specific areas of construction management. Students can opt to take one or two courses or all the offerings. If students opt to take these offerings as a noncredit course, they can transfer or articulate for credit in the HCCC Construction Management academic certificate or degree program.

      HCCC also offers the opportunity to earn a National Institute of Certified Engineers and Technicians (NICET) certificate for the field of Asphalt Testing and other similar offerings, all of which have been very popular. In all, by offering these different degree and non-degree options, students are afforded flexibility to acquire skills that best meets their career advancement goals. This work also helps us advance equity goals as well, as students can learn at their own pace and effectively build their own career pathway beginning where they wish to start.

      Q. Do you see any ways that NJDOT’s Civil Rights, Human Resources, or other units could engage with you to advance programs in NJ?

      A. The State and NJDOT are seeking greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the construction field and on job sites. To achieve this goal, we need to operationalize strategies that will encourage greater diversity among persons who are considering construction as a viable career path and who may apply for construction jobs. Incremental progress in this regard is possible if we work together. We must look beyond meeting a requirement for a specific number of diverse workers on a job site – instead we should focus attention on developing a plan to generate overall interest in the field and set mid-point goals toward achieving that plan.

      On another note, generating interest for a career in heavy equipment operations among youth, especially among youth living in urban areas, is challenging as these individuals often have little exposure to our trade compared to those who reside in more rural areas and who may have experience or familiarity with farm and other heavy equipment. Working with the Junior Achievement organization may provide another pathway for us to identify a new generation of prospective heavy equipment operators and other construction workers.

      We would welcome opportunities to sit at the table with NJDOT to advance careers in construction and are open to developing and refining training and education programs to meet the diverse needs of the workforce.


      Federal Highway Administration, Every Day Counts Round 7, Strategic Workforce Development

      Hudson County Community College, Workforce Development

      Hudson County Community College Center for Construction Management

      International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825

      NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development

      NJ Department of Labor, NJ PLACE 2.0 Grants

      NJ Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships

      NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities

      Rutgers Youth Success Program (RYSP)

      From left to right: a woman in a hardhat working with a crowbar, then two men helping place a bridge component, finally three men on a paving device

      Strategic Workforce Development Online Recordings & Presentations

      Strategic Workforce Development is one of FHWA's seven initiatives promoted through the sixth round of the Every Day Counts (EDC) program. Key emphasis is on developing new, innovative strategies to support qualified workers for highway construction projects. By strengthening this workforce by applying lessons learned with new training tools and customizable marketing materials, state transportation agencies can help to foster the next generation of transportation workers.

      FHWA's Center for Workforce Development has hosted several webinars about the Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP), highlighting success stories and best practices.


      Recent webinars were held in November 2022, including representatives from Michigan, Connecticut, New England Laborers Training Academy, Texas, National Skills Coalition, Oregon, and the Pennsylvania representatives from the Pittsburgh region, including the Partner4Work and Builders Guild organizations.  A host of supportive services were highlighted that both educate and maintain their trainee's opportunities and availability to participate in the respective workforce development programs.

      Other recordings and select presentations are available here and future webinar announcements will be located on the HCWP website.  Some examples of recent webinars and presentations are listed below.


      FHWA contacts for Strategic Workforce Development are Karen Bobo ( and Joe Conway (

      Image of backed up traffic and first responder in neon vest standing on highway

      Talking TIM Webinar Series (TIM) Webinar Series

      The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Talking TIM webinar series provides best practices, new technological innovations, and successful implementations. The webinar series provides a forum where TIM champions with any level of experience can exchange information about current practices, programs, and technologies.  Each month, the FHWA TIM Program Team seeks to feature content that highlights successful programs, identifies best practices, and showcases technology that advances the profession.

      The FHWA-sponsored webinars are hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE). Talking TIM typically takes place the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM.  Click here to view upcoming webinars.

      Below is a list of past webinars:

      • January 2021: The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Role in TIM, Digital Alert Pilots in St Louis and Kansas City, and FHWA Every Day Counts Round Six (EDC-6) NextGen TIM Overview
      • February 2021: Innovative Tools for Responder and Road Worker Safety
      • March 2021: AASHTO's Role in TIM, Nebraska Tow Temporary Traffic Control Program, Fire Truck Attenuators for Temporary Traffic Control, Massachusetts Legislation for Driver and Responder Safety
      • April 2021: Wisconsin's Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) Program, City of Seattle TIM and Response Team Program, and North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) TIM Innovations
      • May 2021: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Role in TIM, Incident Detours Involving Railroad Crossings, Washington State's TIM Program and Virtual Coordination, and Responder Vehicle to Traffic Management Center Video Sharing
      • June 2021: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Traffic Incident Management
      • July 2021: Lubbock Fire and Rescue Helmet Innovation,  RESQUE-1 Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Assistance, Geographically-Tagged Information from Travelers
      • August 2021: CDOT TIM for Localities, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement TIM Training Requirement, Schertz Fire and Rescue TIM Training Institutionalization, Institutionalizing TIM training for EMS Professionals in Georgia
      • September 2021: Rural Roadway Strategies for Incident Management
      • October 2021: Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator Testing and Implementation in Colorado, Autonomous and Driverless Pilots for Large Trucks in Arizona, Rural-Focused Towing Programs in Florida
      • November 2021: National Kickoff: Crash Responder Safety Week 2021
      • December 2021: In-Cab Incident Alerts for Commercial Vehicles
      • January 2022: Illinois TIM Program Overview and Training Video Use, Law Enforcement and First Responder Interactions Plans for Automated Driving Systems (ADS), Total Solar Eclipse Planning for 2023 and 2024
      • February 2022: Public Safety Announcements across Nine States for Motorist and Traffic Incident Responder Safety, TIM Video Sharing Use Cases: Findings from the Recent EDC-6 Next Generation TIM Workshop, TRACS and MACH: Software to Simplify Electronic Crash Reporting and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
      • March 2022: Outreach for Responder Safety through Collaborations with the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Towing and Recovery Association of America, North Carolina Tethered Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program, and Advanced Responder Warning through Safety Vests Fueled by Video Analytics
      • April 2022: Smart Lighting Strategies for Responder Vehicles, Incident Response After Action Reviews Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery, Incident Response After Action Reviews Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery
      • May 2022: Data Use and Visualization, Promoting Roadway Safety Through Move Over Law and Responder Struck-By Awareness, The New Jersey TIM Program
      • June 2022: Ohio DOT Quick Clear Demonstration, Electric Vehicle Battery Fires and the TIM Timeline, Montana's TIM Program
      • July 2022: The National Unified Goal: What Is It and How Do We Make It Relevant?, Planning and Responding to Special Events in Minnesota, Iowa DOT TIM Program Overview and Strategies for Quicker Incident Detection
      • August 2022: Overview of the Florida Heartland TIM Committee and Florida's Expanded Deployment of Cameras on Road Ranger Vehicles, What's New for the 2022 TIM Capability Maturity Self-Assessment, The TIM National Unified Goal: Relevancy of the TIM NUG Strategies
      • September 2022:  Move Over and Responder Safety Technologies, Houston Traffic Incident Management and Training
        National Unified Goals Review and Feedback.
      • January 2023:  Mitigating Work Zone Traffic Incidents Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Every Day Counts Round 7 (EDC-7) Innovation, Next Generation TIM: Technology for Lifesaving Response, Traffic Incident Management National Unified Goal (NUG) Review and Feedback, Part 3
      • February 2023: Findings from Move Over Compliance and Responder Safety Technology Research, After Action Review of a Multi-Vehicle Fire, EDC-7 Summit Debrief: TIM Technologies for Saving Lives.
      • March 2023: Light-emitting diode (LED) Temporary Traffic Control Devices for Digital Motorist Alerts, Moveable Barriers and Debris Removal Systems, National Secondary Crash Research.
      • April 2023:  Responder to Vehicle (R2V) Alerts in the District of Columbia, The Role of Medical Examiners in TIM, New Audience Listening Session

      Go to Talking TIM webinar series for more recent events.

      More  information on the FHWA EDC-7 initiative, Next Generation TIM: Technology for Lifesaving Response is here.

      Jim AustrichPaul Jodoin, and Joe TeboFHWA Office of Operations TIM Program, organize and moderate this webinar series hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE).


      NJ STIC 2nd Quarter 2023 Meeting

      The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened online for the 2nd Quarter Meeting on June 14, 2023. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.

      Brandee Sullivan, NJDOT Innovation Coordinator, greeted the meeting participants, followed by Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks. He noted that there are efforts to hold the 3rd quarter STIC meeting in person. He welcomed Mr. Christopher Paige, Innovation Coordinator and Community Planner for the FHWA NJ Office. Mrs. Sullivan introduced Vandana Mathur, the new CIA Team Lead for Mobility & Operations.

      FHWA EDC Innovation. Mr. Paige stated that FHWA will have the EDC-7 baseline reports finalized soon. He noted that, in this EDC round, the progress report schedule has changed. There is no six-month report due this summer; the next report will be due in spring 2024. Mr. Paige also shared that FHWA will hold periodic webinars on EDC-7 initiatives and he will coordinate to send notifications out about the schedule.

      Mr. Paige also thanked FHWA and NJDOT staff who attended the American Council of Engineering Companies Design Summit. He noted that the Innovation presentation, which focused on the EDC initiatives, was well received.

      Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates of the status of EDC initiatives on the topics of:  Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, Mobility and Operations, Organizational Improvement and Support, and Planning and Environment.

      Featured Presentation – NJDOT Sustainability Initiatives. 

      Three presentations were given on NJDOT Sustainability Initiatives.

      Presentation # 1 – Foamed Glass Aggregate.  Kimberly Sharp, NJDOT Bureau of Geotechnical Engineering and Geology, spoke about Foamed Glass Aggregate (FGA) which is made from 100 percent recycled glass. Use of the material reduces waste in landfills, alleviates the burden on waste management infrastructure, and promotes a more sustainable approach to handling waste. CO2 emissions and energy use for production is 50 percent less than for other lightweight aggregates used by NJDOT. Due to FGA’s light weight, fewer trucks are needed to transport it, which keeps heavier trucks off the road, and reduces emissions and congestion.

      Lightweight and durable, the material is non-leaching, rot-resistant, and non-flammable.  Ms. Sharp discussed the manufacturing process and the various applications of FGA in NJDOT projects, including as fill behind retaining walls and abutments, around utilities, tunnels and culverts to lighten loads, underneath roads to raise the profile in areas of flooding. These projects have saved millions of bottles from the landfill.

      In the future, FGA may be used for flood mitigation (underground reservoirs), noise walls, as backfill for Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE walls), and in rehabilitation projects for abutments and wall reconstruction.

      Ms. Sharp mentioned another process they are investigating that makes pellets from plastic bags and places the material in concrete.

      Presentation #2 – NJDOT Initiatives for Sustainability in Pavements.  Robert Blight, NJDOT Pavement and Drainage Management Technology, talked about innovative pavements including rubber pavements made from scrap rubber tires, recycled asphalt pavement, and recycled plastic waste. The use of these materials has the potential to reduce pavement life-cycle costs, greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and noise.

      Recycled scrap rubber tires is an engineered waste product the use of which could reduce pollution of water and air from landfill storage. Asphalt rubber is ground tire rubber incorporated into open-graded asphalt pavement material. Some applications recycle up to 1,000 tires per lane mile. Winter maintenance became an issue for NJDOT and application in roadways was paused, but the material could be used on shoulders or for parking lots.

      NJDOT used an asphalt rubber gap-graded mixture on a project in 2014 which is still performing well, and asphalt rubber binder in asphalt rubber chip seal was used on a project in 2018.

      Reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) uses asphalt milled during resurfacing projects. Some concerns include performance issues with the binder and the need to process the material to achieve uniformity rather than adding directly to pavement material. A 2012 project that used a high-RAP mixture is still performing well.

      There has been a lot of research into using waste plastic in pavements looking for long-term performance and sustainability. NJDOT has an ongoing research project with Rutgers exploring use of plastic waste as a modifier in pavement materials. Safety, health and environmental concerns with using plastic requires reliance on research and engineering expertise.

      Presentation #3 – Sustainable Research Projects.  Mansi Shah and Kamal Patel, NJDOT Bureau of Research spoke about current research projects on sustainable materials. Ms. Shah discussed the research process for the Implementation of Pervious Concrete Sidewalks in New Jersey. Ms. Shah described the material which is made of cement, aggregates, water, and admixtures, poured over a stone reservoir that temporarily stores rainwater before infiltration to the subsoil. The material plays a role in stormwater management by reducing puddling and slowing stormwater surface runoff. The implementation phase involved a pilot demonstration sidewalk project in Montgomery Township. Regular maintenance of the material is required to keep the voids free of debris.

      Ms. Shah noted that the Bureau of Research seeks to conduct research studies to explore the possibility of recycling scrap tires for use as aggregate in concrete and asphalt. This process addresses a growing environmental problem and threat to health. Ms. Shah suggested collaboration with Robert Blight on this area of mutual interest.

      Mr. Patel discussed Energy Harvesting from Roadway and Bridges as an alternative to electricity produced by burning fossil fuels. Energy harvesting uses the current transportation infrastructure to generate electricity for various transportation applications such as powering sensors and other lighting as well as wireless data transfer devices to monitor traffic data and infrastructure. The research explored photovoltaic materials and Piezo electric materials. In the first project phase, researchers explored the configuration of solar panels on noise barriers and found an optimal configuration for maximum power output.

      The second project phase employed piezoelectric sensors embedded on bridge structures. Energy harvesting can be achieved by compression caused by traffic traveling over the sensors, or by vibration, caused by traffic loads and winds, detected by sensors attached to the bridge structure. The research focused on sensors attached to bridge structures and what resonant frequency would yield higher voltage outputs. Lab testing and full-scale testing were conducted.

      Reminders and Updates.  Mrs. Sullivan closed the meeting with information and reminders on the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

      • NJDOT Tech Transfer Website -
      • NJ STIC Website –

      NJ STIC Meeting notes including presentations and recordings can be found in the NJ STIC section for the website (

      Sal Cowan spoke about the new NJDOT Bordentown Training Center. In seeking to address the need for a workforce that is right-sized, properly trained and properly equipped, NJDOT has developed a first-class training facility and a business unit dedicated to training the technical workforce. The training facility will be used specifically by Operations. However, in describing key elements of the facility, Mr. Cowan emphasized that it will be available to serve the entire Department.

      Mrs. Sullivan spoke about the 10th anniversary of the 2023 American Council of Engineering Companies Design Summit. The Summit gathers people from various areas of the transportation design industry.  This year’s theme was innovation and the event featured several presentations on EDC-7 topics and the role of NJ STIC, and a discussion on the barriers to innovation.

      She added that there are free trainings on EDC-7 topics through the Local Technical Assistance Program at Rutgers-CAIT. She shared links to an upcoming schedule of trainings and noted that there will be more trainings  available in the future.

      Mrs. Sullivan announced that the NJDOT Bureau of Research has combined the innovative ideas portal with the research portal to gather high quality ideas from the transportation community. For more information and to register for an account and submit ideas on the NJ Transportation Ideas Portal, go here.

      Mrs. Sullivan also announced that STIC Incentive Program funds are available. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year.  Mrs. Sullivan asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. She noted that local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.

      Mike Russo and Amanda Gendek, Manager, NJDOT Bureau of Research, provided closing remarks.

      A recording of the NJ STIC June 2023 meeting can be found here.

      The Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety here or in sections below.

      Welcome Remarks & FHWA Updates

      CIA Team Organizational Support & Improvement Updates

      CIA Team Safety Updates

      CIA Team Mobility & Operations Updates

      CIA Team Infrastructure Preservation Updates

      CIA Team Planning & Environment Updates

      Feature Presentation #1:
      NJDOT Sustainability Initiatives. Kimberly Sharp, Bureau of Geotechnical Engineering

      Announcements and Reminders

      Feature Presentation #2:
      NJDOT Sustainability Initiatives: Robert Blight, Bureau of Pavement & Drainage Management and Technology

      Featured Presentation #3
      NJDOT Sustainability Initiatives:
      Mansi Shah & Kamal Patel, Bureau of Research

      NJ STIC 1st Quarter 2023 Meeting

      The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened online for the 1st Quarter Meeting on March 15, 2023. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.

      Welcome and Introductions.  Brandee Sullivan, NJDOT Innovation Coordinator, greeted the meeting participants, followed by Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks. He introduced a new Core Innovation Area Team, Planning and Environment, that will lead the implementation activities for two of the EDC-7 Innovations being addressed by the NJ STIC. The two EDC-7 innovations, EPDs for Sustainable Project Delivery, and Integrating GHG Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning, will fall under the responsibility of this newly formed CIA Team.  Andrew Swords, NJDOT, and Sutapa Bandyopadhyay, FHWA, are the leads for this Team.

      Asst. Commissioner Russo thanked Helene Roberts, Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager for the FHWA NJ Office, who is retiring in April. He thanked Helene for her years of service, and her guidance and support in making the NJ STIC successful.  Mr. Russo introduced Robert Clark, Division Administrator for the FHWA NJ Office, who also thanked Helene for all her work. He noted that she is a Pavement and Materials engineer and has recently won two national awards.  In crediting Ms. Roberts for her significant work on behalf of the NJ STIC, Mr. Russo showed a timeline of the STIC’s development over more than 10 years of innovating, including being the recipient of two STIC Excellence Awards.

      FHWA Innovation Updates. Helene Roberts spoke about the closeout of EDC-6 and provided a summary of the status of each innovation initiative at the end of the two-year period. She noted that Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations and Virtual Public Involvement had reached the institutionalization stage.  The other EDC-6 Round innovations undertaken by the NJ STIC had not changed status at the close of the two-year period, but were on a path to continue to make progress by their respective teams.

      Ms. Roberts also spoke about the EDC-7 National Summit recordings of which will be available on-demand for a year. Access to all of the recordings requires registration. Ms. Roberts noted NJ participation in the National Summit: Sal Cowan presented on Next-Gen TIM technologies in use by NJDOT, and Ted Ritter, NJTPA, and Jaclyn Davis, DVRPC, presented on Virtual Public Involvement at the National STIC Network Showcase. General information about the EDC-7 Virtual Summit can be found here along with a link to the event's agenda.  A short post about the NJ involvement at the FHWA Virtual Summit, including the referenced presentations, can be found here.

      Amanda Gendek, Bureau of Research summarized the EDC-7 NJ Caucus proceedings held on February 22, 2023. She requested that those who participated in the NJ Caucus could still complete the Feedback Form (a link was shared) to help the NJDOT Bureau of Research in organizing future Caucus-related events.

      Breakout Rooms: EDC-7 Conversations with Core Innovation Area Leads. The meeting continued with conversations with Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders about the EDC-7 innovations being pursued by the NJ STIC. Attendees chose to join one of the five CIA Team breakout sessions: Safety; Infrastructure Preservation; Mobility and Operations; Organizational Improvement and Support; and Planning and Environment.  The sessions continued the discussions that began with the NJ STIC Caucus and reviewed the baseline status of each innovation, the stage of deployment goal for the innovation over the next two years. and implementation steps that could be taken to achieve the deployment goal.

      Featured Presentation – Nighttime Visibility for Safety.  Two presentations highlighted research on lighting design guidance and various design improvements aligned with advancing Nighttime Visibility for Safety, an EDC-7 Innovation topic.

      Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Managing Director, Active Transportation & Mobility Safety Group, Rutgers Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC), and Greg Woltman, Project Coordinator, summarized previous work on street lighting and the relationship of lighting to pedestrian and bicyclist crashes. Enhancing nighttime visibility for pedestrian and bicycle safety is the subject of a research effort on Life-Saving Lighting that Rutgers-VTC is beginning with researchers at Rowan University funded through the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. This work will result in a lighting design guide for local jurisdictions. VTC requested input from people in the meeting through a Menti poll.  Anahita Kakhani, Graduate Research Assistant at Rowan, introduced herself as a member of the research team for preparing the lighting design guide.

      Charu Jegan and Andrey Terentiev, NJDOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering, presented on safety countermeasures for Nighttime Visibility and pedestrian and bicyclist safety. NJDOT has been installing LED lighting on state highways; improving ADA accessibility for pushbuttons and voice command at crosswalks, and ensuring that pedestrian signal heads can be seen clearly from the crosswalk; installing traffic signal backplates with retroreflective tape; installing pedestrian-activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB); and evaluating the effectiveness of vertical illumination.  They discussed the benefits and challenges of these countermeasures.

      Reminders and Updates.  Mrs. Sullivan closed the meeting with information and reminders on the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

      She announced that the 2023 Design Summit, sponsored by NJDOT, FHWA, and American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), has a theme of Innovation. The Summit will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. NJDOT Bureau of Research will be gathering information from NJ stakeholders on EDC-7 initiatives through the use of QR-coded surveys.

      Mrs. Sullivan also announced that STIC Incentive Program funds are available. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year. She asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. Local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.

      Mrs. Sullivan reminded attendees about the NJ Build a Better Mousetrap Competition. The deadline for entries is May 1, 2023. This year, state agencies can submit innovations to the national competition if the innovation is replicable in other agencies.  To learn more about the competition and see examples of past winners, go here, or download the entry form and guidance here.

      Asst. Commissioner Russo provided closing remarks.

      A recording of the NJ STIC March 2023 meeting can be found here.

      The Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety here or in sections below.

      Welcome Remarks

      FHWA EDC Innovation Updates

      EDC-7 NJ Caucus Review & Feedback

      Feature Presentation #1:
      Nighttime Visibility for Safety, Rutgers-Voorhees Transportation Center with Rowan University

      Feature Presentation #2:
      Nighttime Visibility for Safety, NJDOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering

      Reminders, Announcements, and Thank You

      Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: NJDOT’s Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program

      Strategic Workforce Development, an innovative initiative of the Every Day Counts Program, suggests the importance of fostering an environment and partnerships favorable to training programs, pre-apprenticeship programs, and support for women and minorities in the construction workforce, among other strategies. NJDOT’s Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program promotes workforce development by supporting transportation-related community projects that engage youth and young adults in underserved communities. NJDOT partners with local government agencies, not-for-profits, community-based organizations and other entities with established youth programs to provide summer employment, as well as training and other supportive services, to the program participants working to improve gateway areas at state highways.

      We interviewed Chrystal Section, Supervisor of the Non-Discrimination Programs Unit in the NJDOT’s Division of Civil Rights and Affirmative Action. The unit includes Title VI, Environmental Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act, Limited English Proficiency, and two special programs: the Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement program and the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI).

      Q. The Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program has been operating since 1998. What prompted the start of the program?

      Members of the Division of Civil Rights attended an AASHTO subcommittee conference on the program. Our division became very interested seeing that it would be beneficial to our youth and young adults in underserved communities. At the time, Civil Rights worked with NJDOT’s Adopt a Highway program to develop the Urban Gateway Enhancement Program.

      Q. Is the NJDOT program affiliated with the NJ Department of Labor’s Youth Corps Program in New Jersey?

      No. We do not work directly with the NJ Department of Labor Urban Youth Corps program. NJDOT implements the Urban Gateway Enhancement Program with the support of federal funding.

      Q. What is your role with the program?

      I am the project manager, and I work with the supervisors at the various agencies that are participating. I am responsible for outreach, the website presence including grant cycle announcement and application availability statewide, review of applications, award announcement letters, the kick-off meeting with all the funded organizations, ensuring recipients provide close-out documents for reimbursement, and providing the final project report to FHWA.

      Q. How much funding is available to each applicant?

      Up to $32,000 is available to each applicant organization.  At least 50 percent of the budget must be dedicated to the youth participants in earnings, training and supportive services. Teams are formed with approximately 6 to 10 youths. The funding also pays for the local supervisor, and equipment and supplies as needed.

      Some of the applications request less than the grant cap, especially if the organization has participated previously and has purchased costly equipment already.

      Q. What might be a typical hourly wage or stipend?

      Participants are paid minimum wage, $15/hour, although some of the participating organizations have stipends, so they would pay them based on the stipend. The youths and young adults are not paid less than minimum wage. The participants work four to six hours per day for up to six to eight weeks during the summer.

      Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.
      Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.

      Q. How do you get the word out about the program?

      Our outreach includes sending letters to previous participants and mayors in underserved communities, and we send out a blast on all NJDOT social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and post the notice on the NJDOT website on the Civil Rights and Clean Up NJ webpages.

      Q. How are participating organizations chosen?

      We accept applications from any entity that fits the criteria set forth in the application. When I first started with the program, I worked primarily with Urban Enterprise Zones but the program has spread through word of mouth. We continue to focus on underserved communities. The applicants must have established youth programs. The goal of NJDOT’s program is to benefit youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 who are economically or socially disadvantaged and who have experienced barriers to employment (e.g., the lack of a high school diploma, homelessness, teen parenting, being physically or mentally challenged, or an ex-offender).  These program participants receive training while receiving a paycheck.  Depending on the project, they will have an opportunity to learn the basics of urban forestry, landscaping, fabrication and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements, horticulture, construction inspection and materials testing.

      Applicants have included cities, youth corps, churches, school districts, and other not-for-profit community-based organizations. Each community organization provides the program’s structure and supervision and also provides life skills, and safety and technical skills training. For examples of grantees and projects, please see Table 1.

      As previously noted, some former funding recipients apply in subsequent years, often to continue maintenance on the original project site.

      Q. Can you describe the process once you have received the applications?

      We receive 14 applications on average each year, and we can usually fund up to 12. A team of 11 NJDOT subject matter experts (SMEs) serve on the application scoring team. These individuals are from several areas including Civil Rights, Local Aid & Economic Development, Community Outreach, Landscape, Project Management, Statewide Planning, Capital Planning and Management, and Operations. Representatives from these departments volunteer their time to review and individually score the applications and then we discuss the scoring and make the awardee selections.

      In their applications, the organizations can list up to three site locations and specify the type of projects they will be working on at each location. The projects must be located at gateways to state roadways and be sited on land owned by the State, as NJDOT does not have jurisdiction over county and municipal roadways. Clean-up, maintenance, on-going maintenance from previous projects, anti-graffiti initiatives, planting flowers and trees, and other landscaping are typical projects.

      Scoring of the applications takes into consideration whether the project is feasible and provides meaningful and productive work for the participants. Skills training, including work skills, life skills, and safety skills training should be included. Ensuring a safe environment, including providing COVID 19 personal protective equipment and protocols during the pandemic, is also a consideration. Scorers also look for local support for the projects.

      Q. Once projects are awarded, what’s next? Does the program leverage the expertise or capabilities of NJDOT employees? How do NJDOT employees get involved in teaching or mentoring in the program?

      When we have our kick-off meeting there are representatives from NJDOT Operations and Landscape present to answer any questions. As the project moves forward, we provide technical support as needed, either by meeting with the teams at the project site or answering questions by phone.

      Members of the committee visit the project sites during the summer to provide feedback on the great work participants are doing, and to answer questions they may have

      Q. What are the benefits of the program?

      There are numerous benefits to both NJDOT and the program participants. NJDOT benefits from the opportunity to partner with non-profit agencies and community-based organizations and local governments. The program also provides a prospective employee pool for the Department. The participants benefit from learning about transportation and jobs that are available in the field, and in some cases from the mentorship by NJDOT employees. The participants also gain a sense of ownership of the sites, of pride in their accomplishments and their community. They learn new skills, including life skills, while earning a pay check. This work experience, and employment services offered through the organization, can help them when applying for jobs in the future. The community benefits from an improvement project that beautifies gateway areas so they are inviting to residents and visitors, and from having citizens who are engaged and better equipped to find a job.

      Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.
      Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.

      Q. What are challenges of the program?

      There are three main challenges: continued maintenance of the project sites, obtaining increased funding for the program, and closing out projects in a timely manner at the end of the year.

      Ensuring that maintenance is continued for these projects depends on the participating community organizations, as maintenance is not a grant requirement although highly desired. Many recipients have strong relationships with the municipal Department of Public Works (DPW), which may accept responsibility for continued maintenance of the project sites. Others apply for additional funding to maintain the sites.

      We would also welcome increased funding that would enable us to support more projects and open the program up to more organizations in the state.

      Regarding program close-out requirements, this program is a reimbursement program. At the end of the project, the organizations have to submit payment vouchers and receipts. Delays in the process are common due to the other priorities of the organizations, but NJDOT’s ability to secure new funding from FHWA depends on the successful close-out of the year’s projects. Sometimes, we have to skip a year of the program due to late reporting. For example, we awarded grants in 2021 but skipped the 2022 cycle.

      Q. Are there any program changes being discussed?

      I have been managing the program independently for the past two years, but I now have two new staff members who are excited about the program. Now that they have joined me, I will have capacity to reach out and see what other states are doing with similar programs to gather lessons learned.

      Q. Is there a workforce development component to the program? Are program participants encouraged to apply to NJDOT for employment in Operations or other divisions, bureaus or units?

      Our goal is to not limit our investment in these individuals to only summer employment, but to also open the door to employment at NJDOT. In January 2022, we invited our partner organizations to a meeting to make them aware of the Highway Operations Technician (HOT) positions available in Operations. We worked with Human Resources and the Manager of Operations to discuss the way the HOT program works, and the application process at NJDOT. Although there were no promises made for hiring, the organizations could make their youth and young adult program participants aware of these existing job opportunities. NJDOT considers this outreach a continuing investment in the on-the-job training. We hope to hold other meetings in the future when these or similar positions are available – positions that require the skills these individuals have developed through the program. We are looking at this initiative as a component of our workforce development program.

      Q. Do you have an example of what you would consider a successful project?

      I will give you the example of a Trenton-based program operated by Isles, a non-profit organization, which has been a funding recipient for several years. Their work has focused on a variety of beautification and land management tasks, including installation of a TRENTON sign at Barlow Circle, and improvements at plaza gateways, at the Motor Vehicle Commission building, and at ARTWORKS.

      Projects led by Isles, Inc. in Trenton serve as some of the examples of this successful program.
      Projects led by Isles, Inc. in Trenton serve as some of the examples of this successful program.

      When our team of committee members went out to meet with the program participants who worked on this project, these young people were a little resistant to engage with us at first. But when we toured the project sites together and they had the opportunity to explain their contributions and what they learned, you could see a positive change. They were proud of their accomplishments and happy to share that with us. They were not only earning money but learning skills, including how to prepare a resume and other life skills. It is truly meaningful when we as NJDOT employees have the chance to go out and meet with these young people and have an exchange where they can ask questions about the work we are doing, and we can build relationships.

      You can always give funding, but it becomes so meaningful when you have the chance to spend half the day with these young men and women and find out about their work, interests and goals. Overall, it is a wonderful experience to oversee this program for NJDOT, to help make communities beautiful, and see lives positively changing from our efforts.

      Grantee OrganizationMunicipalityCountyProject Locations
      The Work GroupCity of CamdenCamden• Grassy triangle at Admiral Wilson Boulevard and Bank Street
      • Exit 3 off 676 North at Morgan Street
      City of East Orange Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training (MOET)  City of East OrangeEssex• Freeway Drive-East
      • Freeway Drive-West
      • North Oraton Parkway (Main Street overpass)
      • Ampere Plaza- 4th Avenue
      Groundwork ElizabethCity of ElizabethUnion• Kellogg Park
      • Mattano Park
      • McPherson Park
      City of Long BranchCity of Long BranchMonmouth• Jackson Woods Park, Route 36
      New Brunswick Board of Education/New Jersey Youth Corps of Middlesex CountyCity of New BrunswickMiddlesex• War Memorial Park, New Brunswick- Route 27- Lincoln Highway (Northbound) and Route 91 a spur of Route 1- Jersey Avenue (Southbound)
      • Buccleuch Park, New Brunswick- County Road 527- Easton Avenue (Northbound) and New Jersey State Road Route 18 (Northbound)
      • Recreation Park, New Brunswick- Route 171 Jersey Avenue (Northbound)
      City of PassaicCity of PassaicPassaic• Madison Street, NJ Route 21 Exit
      New Jersey Youth Corps of PatersonCity of PatersonPassaic• Route 80
      • Route 20
      • Various entrances or gateways to the City of Paterson, NJ
      City of Perth AmboyCity of Perth AmboyMiddlesex• Route 35 (Convery Boulevard) and Route 184 (Pfeiffer Boulevard)
      • South-West Corner of Smith Street Convery Boulevard (Route 35) and Riverview Drive
      • Outer High Street and Route 440 Ramp
      • NJ-184 (Lincoln Drive)
      New Jersey Youth Corps of PhillipsburgTown of PhillipsburgWarren• NJ 122 (Alt 22) South Main Street 900 Block
      • South Main Street (Union Square to Walters Park)
      • US Rte. 22 and Roseberry Street (NW Corner)
      New Jersey Youth Corps of Atlantic CountyCity of PleasantvilleAtlantic• Delilah Road and Franklin Avenue
      Isles, Inc.City of TrentonMercer• Route 1/Perry Street. Interchange & adjacent Roberto Clemente Park- on/off ramp, strip between on-ramp and park
      • Route 1/Market Street at Stockton/Mill Hill Park- on/off ramps, MVC building, planned Artwalk and “Trenton” landscaped sign
      • Market Street Plaza- gateways that connect Route 1 with Mill Hill and Market Street/Broad Street intersection and corridor
      Table 1: NJDOT Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program Grantees for 2021


      NJDOT Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program

      NJ STIC 4th Quarter 2022 Meeting

      The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened online for the 4th Quarter Meeting on December 14, 2022. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.

      Brandee Sullivan (Chapman), NJDOT Innovation Coordinator greeted the meeting participants, followed by Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks. He announced that the NJ STIC was awarded the FHWA STIC Excellence Award, for development of the STIC Communications Plan, creation of a full-time Innovation Coordinator position, and creation of a new core innovation area related to Organizational Improvement and Support. This is the second STIC Excellence Award received by NJ STIC.

      FHWA EDC Innovation. Helene Roberts, Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager for the FHWA NJ Office, noted that the EDC-7 cycle will be beginning in January 2023. She highlighted the seven initiatives that will be part of the next cycle: Nighttime Visibility for Safety; Next Generation TIM: Technology for Saving Lives; Integrating GHG Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning; Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete (EPIC2); EPDs for Sustainable Project Delivery; Rethinking DBE in Design-Build; and Strategic Workforce Development. She noted that the FHWA EDC-7 Summit will be held from February 14-16, 2023 as a virtual event. The Summit will be followed by a NJ STIC Caucus on February 22, 2023.

      Core Innovation Area (CIA) Updates. The meeting continued with presentations from Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders who provided updates of the status of EDC initiatives on the topics of Safety, Infrastructure Preservation, Mobility and Operations, and Organizational Improvement and Support.

      There was a brief break during which meeting participants could take part in an online transportation trivia quiz on innovations promoted through the Every Day Counts Program since its inception.

      Featured Presentation – Ultra High Performance Bridge Preservation.  Jess Mendenhall, Project Engineer, and Samer Rabie, Principal Engineer from NJDOT’s Structural Value Solutions Unit presented on the design, construction, and evaluation of Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) Bridge Deck Overlays for NJDOT.  The NJDOT Structural Value Solutions unit has been exploring the use of UHPC in bridge preservation and rehabilitation projects, an emerging application of UHPC in the United States. Bridge deck overlays were placed on four New Jersey bridges.

      Mr. Mendenhall described the composition of the material and its superior mechanical and durability properties. He observed that the the advantages to using the material include preservation of bridge elements in good or fair condition and extension of the service life of bridge decks yielding potential life cycle cost savings. The disadvantages include the cost of the material, limited contractor experience with use of UHPC as an overlay, and the workability of the overlay mix. The cost of using UHPC tends to be higher than that of conventional overlay, and lower than replacement of the bridge deck.

      Fully understanding the existing bridge condition and determining the remaining service life of primary structural components (i.e., the deck, superstructure and substructure) are crucial in choosing whether to proceed with deck preservation using UHPC overlay or conventional deck replacement and rehabilitation.  Mr. Mendenhall provided an illustrative example of how a life cycle cost analysis can help support the decision of preservation versus reconstruction of a bridge.

      Mr. Mendenhall described the research process and criteria used for the selection of the four bridges, among other candidates, for advancement into design and construction for UHPC Bridge Deck overlay to permit testing of UHPC.  Eight candidate structures were fully evaluated and tested before the four bridge structures were advanced. In this stage, testing was performed on current deck conditions.  All structures included in the program were evaluated for suitability based on the structural evaluations, chloride content within the deck, feasible construction stages, traffic analysis results, and existing overlay depths. Chloride content was obtained from concrete core samples on each bridge deck.

      The bridges that were ultimately selected varied in their age, size and design. All the bridges had asphalt overlay.  The selected bridges for the pilot program were in good condition to leverage the perceived long life-span of UHPC and not allow other factors to limit the potential service life.  Two of the bridges selected were less than 10 years old, and two bridges were 30-40 years old.

      In the design phase, the finished bridge deck elevation was required to match the existing elevations. Various solutions were found for the four bridges including a thin overlay, a 1.5” overlay with an asphalt topping, and a 2.75”UHPC overlay with no asphalt topping. Design solutions avoided excessive UHPC overlay to control costs.

      Mr. Mendenhall described the preferred surface conditions for the application of UHPC and the rationale for a hydrodemolition specification to remove the upper half inch of the existing deck surface. This process results in a roughened surface with exposed aggregate which is the ideal bonding surface for UHPC that limits microfractures that can affect bond performance compared to other technologies such as diamond grinding and milling.

      During his presentation he also spoke about the staging of construction into two stages for all bridges, highlighting specifications and joint details to prevent water intrusion and provide structural continuity in the deck slab.  Exposed fiber finish was specified to promote bonding between stages of UHPC application to ensure an exposed aggregate finish suitable for UHPC application. He highlighted the need for full depth and reconstruction with UHPC to full depth at deck joints which can be susceptible to deterioration.

      Samer Rabie discussed UHPC materials specifications and testing, specifications for construction processes, lessons learned, the evaluation process, and the focus of future assessments. He shared video examples of UHPC placement in the field and discussed design and construction special provisions, use of specialized equipment, mixing and application of UHPC, the importance of exposed fibers, the expertise required of the workforce and contractors, and proper curing and finishing, among other topics.

      Several lessons learned were shared, including an expectation that NJDOT would seek in the scoping and concept development stage to identify project locations that could use UHPC as a final riding surface (rather than asphalt) to enable its evaluation, inspection and characterization for representative condition ratings for the future.  However, if an overlay is needed on top of UHPC for geometry or profile, the agency will consider BDWSC (Bridge Deck Waterproof Surface Course) or High Performance Thin Overlay materials.

      To measure the existing conditions, the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) should be used to determine concrete cover, overlay thickness and reinforcement locations and to determine the causes of delamination.

      Two special provision items will emphasize the use of surveys to inform depths of hydrodemolition and material qualities required for placement to ensure continuous operation and to specify watertight forms, top forms, minimum overfill, and surface grinding.

      Mr. Rabie also outlined construction considerations and challenges in the application of UHPC and proper staging.  He described how UHPC slurry with no fibers was placed in air voids in response to surface defects before asphalt paving and emphasized that proper repair methods in contract documents should be defined to address aesthetic or structural anomalies.

      Mr. Rabie also described in some detail the testing methods that have been used for annual evaluations for two bridges, including non-destructive impact echo testing and ultrasonic tomography, as well as physical sampling and lab testing. The ultrasonic tomography and impact echo testing indicated that the bond between UHPC and concrete substrate is sound and that the chloride content was within expectations.

      In his concluding remarks, Mr. Rabie observed that the baseline testing was successful, with no significant defects encountered. NJDOT is considering installing UHPC overlays on newly constructed decks as well as decks with lower condition ratings for future projects. A deeper overlay (with deeper existing deck removal) will be regarded as a viable alternative for structures that need a major deck rehabilitation. NJDOT is also incorporating UHPC for several applications in the new design manual, including P&R.  In future studies, the team will seek to better understand deterioration rates of UHPC.  The presenters also responded to questions related to the approximate service life of UHPC and its tensile capacity.

      Reminders and Updates.

      Mrs. Sullivan (Chapman) announced that NJDOT received the 2022 America’s Transportation Award for Best Use of Technology and Innovation for the Implementation of Drivewyze on 647 miles of NJ’s Highways.

      Mrs. Sullivan (Chapman) provided reminders on the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

      She reminded the attendees to save the dates for the FHWA EDC-7 National Summit and the NJ STIC Caucus. The EDC-7 Summit will be held from February 14-16, 2023 as a virtual event, featuring some states that have used the initiatives successfully, and an Innovation Showcase. The Summit will be followed by the NJ STIC Caucus on February 22, 2023 from 10:00am-12:00pm. During the Caucus, the NJ STIC will discuss the opportunities and barriers of the new initiatives and consider what initiatives New Jersey should pursue.

      STIC Incentive Program funds are still available for 2022 and more funds will be available soon for the coming year. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the costs of standardizing innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year. Mrs. Sullivan (Chapman) asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. Local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.

      Mr. Russo provided closing remarks.

      A recording of the NJ STIC December 2022 meeting can be found here.

      The Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety here and or in sections below.

      NJ STIC December 2022 Meeting Recording

      Slide image reading: Welcome, Mike Russo, Assistant Commissioner, NJDOT Planning, Multimodal & Grant AdministrationWelcome Remarks

      Slide image reading: FHWA Updates, Helene Roberts, P.E., Innovation Coordinator & Performance Manager, FHWA, NJ Division OfficeFHWA EDC Innovation Updates

      Slide image reading: CIA Team Safety NJDOT - Dan LiSanti, FHWA - Keith SkiltonCIA Team Update: Safety

      CIA Team Update: Infrastructure Preservation

      CIA Team Update: Organizational Improvement and Support

      CIA Team Update: Mobility and Operations

      Feature Presentation: NJDOT Innovative Approach to Safety

      Reminders, Announcements, and Thank You